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In 1971, squatters moved into the barracks on an abandoned military base and established Freetown Christiania, an autonomous district in the middle of the city. Later, many dwellers built their own homes on the 86-acre property. Although the Danish Supreme Court ruled this year that the state owns the land, the area’s nearly 1,000 residents have yet to be evicted. Today, visitors can bike along tree-lined paths and check out the handmade structures before they disappear. christiania.org. This appeared in the July/August 2011 issue.
Tree-lined Paths and Handmade Structures
In 1971, squatters moved into the barracks on an abandoned military base and established Freetown Christiania, an autonomous district in the middle of the city. Later, many dwellers built their own homes on the 86-acre property. Although the Danish Supreme Court ruled this year that the state owns the land, the area’s nearly 1,000 residents have yet to be evicted. Today, visitors can bike along tree-lined paths and check out the handmade structures before they disappear.
Freetown Christiana in Copenhagen with Kids
Freetown Christiana in Copenhagen might not be the first place you’d think of to take your kids while visiting, but it’s definitely worth the trip. Most people think of Pusher Street, where pot is pretty openly sold (although hard drugs are not tolerated), when they think of Christiana. But that is a small and rather uninteresting part of this community. Christiana is an alternative way of living that was basically created by squatters who wanted form a new kind of community centered on the idea of freedom. Old military buildings have been repurposed and the locals have designed really intriguing homes for themselves. Colorful murals can be seen throughout. Make sure to get well off of Pusher Street in into the dirt side streets to get the best views. Locals were incredibly welcoming and happy to see children visiting. Some offered free candied almonds and another went out of their way to direct us to a bathroom for my son. And it sparked some conversation about different ways to live. I think it’s always good to give kids insight into other cultures, even subcultures. Make note of the rules though -- no photos on Pusher Street and no running (so people don’t think there’s a raid).
Walk inside Christiania
Freetown Christiania was a weird place to me. It’s the most hippie part of town and it’s a self-governing society where every individual is free to express himself while still being responsible for the community. There are 3 rules in Christiania: have fun, don’t run, no photos. If you can respect these rules you are more than welcome to walk around. The “Green Zone” is interesting with vendors with covered faces sitting in makeshift booths draped in military style camouflage netting to protect their identities while selling marijuana and hashish. It looked a bit intimidating but we were assured we had nothing to worry about.
"Welcome to Christiana"
Or so says the totem pole on the way in, on the way out it reads “You Are Now Entering the E.U.” Visiting the ~800 person “free state” in the middle of Copenhagen is a trip back in time to the 1970’s where rock n’roll, art, organic & vegetarian food, marijuana, and free love are the name of the game.
Tripping Through Freetown Christiania
Freetown Christiania is a partially self-governing neighborhood of approximately 850 residents, covering 85 acres in the borough of Christianshavn. It established semi-legal status as an independent community, which has been a source of controversy since its creation in a squatted military area in 1971. Its open marijuana trade was tolerated by authorities until 2004 but since then, attempts to legalize the community has been a source of conflict. Denmark & The Danes: http://bit.ly/15aiVrj
Walking Along Christiania's Canal
While famous for its independent charm, green light district, cafes, and artist community, there’s one area that often gets overlooked by tourists. Christiania is much more than just Pusher Street. Walk up and behind Nemoland, over the old defensive earthen wall, and down to the water’s edge for a lovely stroll along the old moat. Before long you’ll have a hard time remembering or believing that you’re situated in the heart of Denmark’s capital city. Visitors are free to explore the town, just be respectful and remember that people are living there.